25. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE (2016)
An unexpected sequel that launched a mini-verse, 10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t necessarily better for its connection to the previous Cloverfield entry but succeeds by virtue of brutally tense filmmaking and great performances from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman.
24. UNDER THE SHADOW (2016)
A human rights crisis meets an old-school haunting in Iranian director Babak Anvari’s emotionally and intellectually satisfying portrait of ragged feminism under strong-arm religious fundamentalism.
23. WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014)
Flight of the Concord funnymen don their vampire garb in this sacrilegious send-up that makes killer use of mockumentary format.
22. BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (2017)
S. Craig Zellner makes horror movies that don’t contain themselves to a solitary genre but the brutal violence and soupy displays of blood and bone qualify this hellish crime epic. Vince Vaughn reinvents himself as a true menace in terrifying, bone-cracking fashion.
21. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)
Combatively bleak character study questions the origins of a school shooter, a topic that’s only become more pertinent with time. Tilda Swinton is haunting.
20. I SAW THE DEVIL (2010)
A police officer and a serial killer face off and, in doing so, become inexplicably more evil and ruthless in this uncompromisingly bleak Korean descent into madness.
19. mother! (2017)
Biblical myth meets anarchical atom bomb in Darren Aronofsky’s intensely provocative arthouse experiment that attempts to tell the modern history of the world through the lens of an enbattled couple.
18. ANNIHILATION (2018)
Skull bears made of screams, the mirror being dance, existential dread, all surrounded by shimmer. The ladies kicked back with a vengeance in 2018.
17. DON’T BREATHE (2016)
Amateur thieves rob the wrong house in endlessly taut script-flip on home invasion tropes. Turkey basters have never been the same since.
16. KILL LIST (2011)
Spanning a multitude of subgenres (crime, cult, killers, etc.) this twisty hell-ride from Ben Wheatley (his best film yet) is intensely unpredictable and all the more horrifying for it. Close your eyes if you dare.
15. A QUIET PLACE (2018)
A mom and dad sound proof their life from sonically-sensitive alien invaders in this thoughtful meditation on the difficulties of parenting, especially so in a world of unblinking 12-foot killing machines. STFU!
14. SHUTTER ISLAND (2010)
Scorsese’s foray into proper psycological horror boasts Leo, a topsy-turvy Dennis Lehane whodunnit, and whizkid technical elements. The ending is perfect (and not open to interpretation, despite what you may think.)
13. THE GUEST (2014)
An out-of-towner isn’t the nice guy facade he first presents in Adam Wingard’s explosively misanthropic redux of the Bourne formula.
12. BLACK SWAN (2010)
A dedicated ballerina unravels in the lead-up to a major performance where nothing is as it seems. Except Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis’ steamy boudoir scenes.
11. THE SKIN I LIVE IN (2011)
Revenge takes an unlikely form in this button-pushing nightmare about a plastic surgeon exacting vengeance in unimaginable ways.
10. UNDER THE SKIN (2013)
Scarlett Johansson is a sexy alien (and naked a lot) who comes around to empathizing with the humans she’s been consuming. I dare you to watch without subtitles.
9. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2011)
Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard deconstruct the horror genre in goofy style and changed the game in doing so. Partially responsible for the arthouse horror resurregence. Merman kill FTW.
8. THE BABADOOK (2014)
Childrearing has never been so horrifying in this Australian import that might actually just all be a mental breakdown. Star Essie Davis is phenomenal.
7. IT FOLLOWS (2014)
A demonic STD will not stop hunting Maika Monroe in this deliriously made, minimalist horror-thriller. David Robert Mitchell’s filmmaking is an intellectual puzzle that only gets more bewildering (and better) upon rewatches.
6. GET OUT (2017)
Being black in America got even more scary in Jordan Peele’s genius socio-horror film, which mixes modern slavery with racist yuppies and impales it all on trophy antlers.
5. RAW (2016)
Lineage is a tricksy thing in this female-forward dissection of how we inherit the faults and foibles of our progenitors. The cannibalism is a metaphor.
4. GREEN ROOM (2015)
Hell is a Nazi-run punk show in this anarachical “trapped in a green room” antidote to the slasher genre. Accordion arm imagery hopefully won’t linger. Fear of Nazi dogs will.
3. THE CONJURING (2013)
The possession subgenre is terrifying again in James Wan’s haunted house-exorcism hybrid. Rated R by virtue of being deemed “too scary” and for good reason. Good luck sleeping after this one.
2. HEREDITARY (2018)
The death of a controlling matriach sparks the implosion of a family unit in this horrifying study of grief amidst supernatural angst. Toni Collette was robbed. Heads should roll.
1. THE WITCH (2015)
Living off the land in Puritanical colonial New England goes horribly awry when Black Phillip seduces the youth of an outcast family with promises of delicious living. An ingenuously crafted, sublimely acted masterpiece.
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